Thursday, February 9, 2012

Learning lessons on Orcas

Orcas 50k 2/4/12. This race is an early season classic held on one of the most scenic islands in the country. My vow was to run it this year without bonking. Friday night found me hunkered down in my van nursing a sore throat thinking, "It'll be better in the morning". It wasn't. I had some breakfast and decided I could run the sickness off. (It's worked before). The day was shaping up to be beautiful and I clustered at the start with a ton of friends and a sea of Fleet Feet green shirts listening to James Varner give his course briefing. Then we were off. Two young kids took off super fast followed by the lead pack of about 15. Fast. I fell in with Jon Robinson as usual and we worked our way around and up Mt. Pickett. I felt lousy. The pace was too fast, I wasn't having fun and I didn't want to continue. I got it in my head to drop when the course got back to the camp at aid station #1. I kvetched to Jon my intentions and he said, "Stick with it, you'll feel better." I slowed as we hit the station. Luke, Sara Malcolm's husband was working the aid station AND was holding my van keys for me. I told him I was thinking of dropping. He looked at me like he didn't believe me and suggested I eat something and get back out there. The lawn and everything around the camp was covered in a sheet of frozen dew and looked cold, really cold. The prospect of being cold and sick sounded worse than continuing. I ate some and decided I could always drop at the top of Mt. Constitution where it was bound to be sunny and have views forever. I left aid #1 with the decision my race was over and I'd run for fun, a regular Saturday long run but on an awesome course. I ran, I relaxed, I passed a bunch of early starters. I was having fun now. I passed a few regular starters. I passed the lady with two right shoes? I topped the powerline climb and saw green. Jon Robinson was at the top. I eventually fell in behind him and we chatted awhile until we caught up with Fleet Feeter Bill Huggins. The three of us hit Aid#2 which had food this year! I downed a cup of ramen and felt like Popeye with spinach. Then we three went straight up Mt. Constitution looking like a caterpillar as we were dressed alike and roughly the same size and speed. By the top I had a slight lead on the others. As I headed down from Aid#3 on top of the mountain, Jon blasted past me. Look out! He was gone. Wow. I powered on. A few miles later I caught him and he admitted he had made a move too early. Passing Jon put me in 6th place and I was racing again. I passed the place where last year I had been forced to do the bonk walk and headed to the climb where two years ago I had stopped to eat a sandwich while bonking to a standstill. I was feeling strong. I saw red. Jeff Browning's red shorts were above me on the last climb and he was in them. I got a burst of energy knowing I was catching him and figured I could get him on the climb but he might get me back on the descent. I went for it and caught him with a ,"Hey dude." as I passed. He responded with ,"You're rockin' it!" He kept on my heels for a while then fell off as I gave it my all to get some distance. Then the downhills came and I ran like crap. My feet were still messed up from the Western Wa. Fat Ass 50k so my toes were banging and my heels were hurting and I was running too scared to look back. Finally the trail spit out at the never ending lake loop. I knew no one was going to catch me on the flats as I felt solid. I put it all out and the course ended earlier than expected so I was able to sprint it in and finished in 4:52:11 a PR of 9 minutes at Orcas. I got 5th place and first master's. Jeff came in three minutes later followed by Jon then Bill in ninth. The day was a success in teaching me AGAIN to run my own race, run relaxed, have fun, be strong and allow everything to work out. Trying too hard wastes energy. Chuckanut is next and a perfect place to put these lessons to good use.

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